A Michigan gem merchant claims he’s entitled to a $25 million reward previously offered by the U.S. government for the capture and killing of al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden.
Tom Lee, 63, of Grand Rapids, says he tipped off the FBI ten years ago, telling them he knew exactly where bin Laden was hiding. Lee says he sent a letter to FBI Director James Comey in August 2003 that bin Laden was hiding in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The letter was sent through Chicago-based law firm Loevy & Loevy.
“It disturbs me, and it should disturb every American, that I told them exactly where bin Laden was in 2003, and they let him live another eight years,” Lee said in an email interview with the Grand Rapids Press on Friday.
“Once Mr. Lee learned that U.S. forces had killed Usama [sic] bin Laden in the precise location he had identified … in 2003, (he) made numerous attempts to contact the Grand Rapids FBI field office in order to claim his reward,” the letter stated. “Unfortunately, all of Mr. Lee’s communications to that office have gone unanswered to date, as has his electronic submission to the FBI via its website.”
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“I have no idea why they let him live for eight years,” Lee said. “At the time I told them where he was in Pakistan, they were still feverishly hunting for him in Afghanistan, which he left two years before.”
Lee, a U.S. citizen of Egyptian heritage, learned of the hiding place from a Pakistani intelligence agent who told him he had personally escorted the terrorist and his family from Peshawar to Abbottabad. That agent was reportedly a member of an anti-Al Qaeda family with business ties to Lee.
“The man further described how he had been dispatched on a mission by the ISI to relocate Bin Laden and his family from Peshawar to a small compound in Bilal, Abbottavbad,” the letter said. “This is the precise location where Bin Laden was eventually located and killed in 2011.”
In the letter, Lee says he told a U.S. customs agent about the compound and then the two of them met with an FBI agent, who reported on the meeting.
U.S. officials say the reward won’t be paid because bin Laden was discovered through electronic intelligence and the work of field operatives, not an informant.
There are reports that the compound wasn’t actually constructed until 2005, two years after Lee said he reported it, according to Fox News.